The types of nuclear waste generated at a nuclear power plant include waste exempt from control, low and intermediate level operating waste, and high level spent fuel.
Compared to the volume of produced energy, however, the amount of waste and its space requirements are small. The principle of nuclear waste management is to isolate the waste from organic nature until the radioactivity of the waste has decreased to an insignificant level.
Spent nuclear fuel from the nuclear power plants of Teollisuuden Voima and Fortum will be packed in copper canisters and embedded in Olkiluoto bedrock at a depth of 400-450 metres. The final disposal of spent nuclear fuel is based on the use of multiple release barriers, which ensure that the nuclear waste cannot be released into organic nature or become accessible to humans. A deficiency of a single barrier or a predictable geological or other change will not endanger the performance of the insulation. The release barriers include the physical state of the fuel, the disposal canister, the bentonite buffer, the backfilling of the tunnels and the surrounding rock.
Plenty of time has been reserved for the preparatory stage and the implementation stage of final disposal. Thorough preparations and implementation will ensure the safety of final disposal. The final disposal of spent nuclear fuel is planned to start in 2020's and will continue for almost a hundred years.
The responsibility for nuclear waste management lies with the nuclear power companies who must carry out the necessary nuclear waste management measures for their own waste at their own cost. Posiva Oy manages research into the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel, construction and operation of final disposal facilities, and eventual closing up of the facilities on behalf of its owner companies.
According to the Nuclear Energy Act, the processing, storage and final disposal of nuclear waste generated in Finland must take place in Finland and the import of nuclear waste into Finland is prohibited.
Funds for waste management collected in advance
The costs of nuclear waste management and final disposal of spent fuel are collected in the price of nuclear electricity from the shareholders of TVO into a fund for future use.
In Finland, nuclear power companies bear the costs of nuclear waste management, and the funds for that purpose are collected into the State Nuclear Waste Management Fund. Each year, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment determines the share of each nuclear power company in the State Nuclear Waste Management Fund as well as the waste management fee to be paid to the fund. The liability share of the nuclear power companies in the Fund is decreased by the investments they make in final disposal.
The annual fee payable to the Fund is determined on the basis of the difference between the amount of accumulated nuclear waste for final disposal and the measures implemented for nuclear waste management. The fee is also increased or decreased on the basis of how well the Fund succeeds in its investments: if the interest income is higher than expected, the liability share in the Fund is correspondingly reduced. The objective is to accumulate enough assets in the Fund for the final disposal of accumulated nuclear waste.